Mpinganjira’s lawyers fail to show up for inter-partes hearing

Lawyers for bribery suspect Thom Mpinganjira failed to show up at the High Court in Blantyre today for an inter-partes hearing on the court order that led to Mpinganjira’s midnight release from police custody.

High Court Judge Dorothy Nyakaunda Kamanga who is reviewing the Zomba Magistrate’s Court order was forced to shift the inter-partes hearing to Tuesday.

Judiciary spokesperson Agnes Patemba confirmed to the local media that Mpinganjira’s lawyers were not available at the court when hearing was expected to begin.

One of Mpinganjira’s lawyers Patrice Nkhono said they did not go to the court because of communication mix-up regarding the date of the hearing.

During the hearing, Kamanga is expected to get clarification Mpinganjira’s lawyers and from lawyers of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the court order that led to Mpinganjira’s release from police custody.

The ACB arrested FDH Bank boss Mpinganjira on Wednesday in connection to allegations of attempts to bribe five Constitutional Court judges presiding over the Presidential Elections Case.

He was, however, released at midnight after Zomba Magistrate Ben Chitsakamile issued an order cancelling the arrest warrant which the ACB had obtained.

Mpinganjira’s arrest came after Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda complained to the bureau that some people were attempting to bribe the judges who are expected to deliver the ruling in the case any day between now and 3 February, 2020.

Mpinganjira is being represented by RITZ law firm where Bright Theu, one of the lawyers representing Saulos Chilima in the presidential court case, serves as a managing partner.

RITZ law firm is the one that obtained the controversial midnight order from a magistrate in Zomba to quash the ACB warrant of arrest that freed Mr Mpinganjira.

Bright Theu: Lawyer for Saulos Chilima is a partner at RITZ law firm which obtained a midnight order to free Mpinganjira

ACB described the decision to free Mpinganjira as disgusting while most Malawians and activists said the order smacked on the possibility of judge shopping.

“This is disgusting. Abuse of court process. It exposes how rotten the judiciary is,” said ACB Director General Reyneck Matemba.

ACB said the order that invalidated ACB’s warrant of arrest was an abuse of court process.

The case continues tomorrow at 2pm in Blantyre.

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